My Idea of village Swaraj is that it is a complete
republic, independent of its neighbours for its own vital wants and yet
interdependent for many others in which dependence is necessary. Thus every
village’s first concern will be to grow its own food crops, and cotton for its
cloth. It should have reserve for its cattle, recreation and playground for
adults and children. Then if there is more land available, it will grow useful
money crops, thus excluding ganja, tobacco, opium and the like.
The village will maintain a village theatre,
school and public hall. It will have its own waterworks ensuring clean water
supply. This can be done through controlled wells or tanks. Education will be
compulsory up to the final basic course. As far as possible every activity will
be conducted on the co-operative basis. There will be no castes such as we have
today with their graded untouchability.
Non-violence with its technique of Satyagraha and
non-co-operation will be the sanction of the village community. There will be a
compulsory service of village guards who will be selected by rotation from the
register maintained by the village. The government of the village will be
conducted by a Panchayat of five persons annually elected by the adult
villagers, male and female, possessing minimum prescribed qualifications. These
will have all the authority and jurisdiction required. Since there will be no
system of punishments in the accepted sense, this Panchayat will be the
legislature, judiciary an executive combined to operate for its year of office.
Any village can become such a republic today
without much interference, even from the present Government whose sole effectual
connection with the village is the exaction of the village revenue. I have not
examined here the question of the relations with the neighbouring villages and
the Centre if any. My purpose is to present an outline of village government.
Here is perfect democracy based upon individual freedom. The individual is the
architect of his own Government. The individual is the architect of his own
Government. He and his village are able to defy the might of the world. For the
law governing every villager is that he will suffer death in the defence of his
and his village’s honour.
To model such a village may be the work of
life-time. Any lover of democracy and village life can take up a village, treat
it as his world and sole work, and he will find good results. He begins by being
the village scavenger, spinner, watchman, medicine-man and school master all at
once. If nobody comes near him he will be satisfied with scavenging and
The villagers should develop such a high degree of
skill that articles prepared by them should command a ready market outside. When
our villages are fully developed there will be no dearth in them of men with a
high degree of skill and artistic talent. There will be village poets, village
artists, village architects, linguists and research workers. In short, there
will be nothing in life worth having which will not be had in the villages.
Today, the villages are dung heaps. Tomorrow they will be like tiny gardens of
Eden where dwell highly intelligent folk whom no one can deceive or exploit.
The reconstruction of the villages along these
lines should begin now. The reconstruction of the villages should not be
organized on a temporary but permanent basis.
Craft, art, health and education should all be
integrated into one scheme. Nai Talim is a beautiful blend of all the four and
covers the whole education of the individual from the time of conception to the
moment of death. Therefore, I would not divide village uplift work into
water-tight compartments from the very beginning but undertake an activity which
will combine different from education I will regard the former as the medium for
the latter. Nai Talim therefore ought to be integrated into the scheme.
A village unit as conceived by me is as strong as
the strongest. My imaginary village consists of 1,000 souls. Such a unit can
give a good account to itself, if it is well organized on a basis of
An ideal Indian village will be so constructed as
to lend itself to perfect sanitation. It will have cottages with sufficient
light and ventilation, built of a material obtainable within a radius of five
miles of it. The cottages will have courtyards enabling the householders to
plant vegetables for domestic use and to house their cattle. The village lanes
and streets will be free of all avoidable dust. It will have wells according to
its needs and accessible to all. It will have houses of worship for all, also a
common meeting place, a village common for grazing its cattle, a co-operative
dairy, primary and secondary schools in which industrial education will be the
central factor, and it will have village Panchayats for settling disputes. It
will produce its own grains, vegetables and fruit, and its own Khadi.
Mahatma, Vol. IV, p.144